Iraqi judges ruled today that only 28 of the 500 “banned” candidates on the Justice and Accountability Commission (JAC) list are free to run in the March elections, after no conclusive evidence was found against them.
At the same time, the judicial panel ruled that two sitting members of Iraqi Parliament, Saleh al-Mutlaq and Dhafir al-Ani, will not be allowed to run for reelection on the bases of allegations of Ba’athist loyalty. Both are Sunnis.
Mutlaq has been at the center of controversy over the ban, as a key ally of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and a top member of Allawi’s secularist bloc. Ani is a member of the reconciliation bloc.
Though only 28 bans were overturned, this was actually the vast majority of the 37 bannings considered by the panel. The JAC prevented the panel from considering most of the appeals, saying the paperwork was improperly filled out.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and top election officials denied charges that the bans disproportionately targeted Sunnis, but the fact that only two MPs were banned from reelection, and both were high profile Sunnis, will renew these allegations and likely also calls for a Sunni boycott. The identities of all of the banned candidates have yet to be made public.